Have you ever gone on a long run in the middle of winter only to be sidelined by knee pain? If you suspect your knee pain is brought on by cold weather, you’re likely not mistaken. While joint pain can sometimes be a sign of injury or an underlying health condition, cold weather can cause joint pain as well.
Read on to learn why cold weather can cause knee pain, as well as how you can treat your symptoms and prevent them in the future so you’ll never get sidelined on a cold-weather run again.
What Causes Knee Pain After Running in Cold Weather?
Although there is a lack of research that proves why cold weather causes knee pain, research does suggest that in colder weather, to conserve heat, the body sends more blood to the organs in the center of the body such as the heart and lungs.
When this happens, other parts of the body, for instance, the arms, legs, shoulders, and joints, experience restricted blood flow. Less blood flow naturally makes these areas colder and stiffer, which can cause pain.
Another theory deals with changes in barometric pressure. Studies show that changes in barometric pressure (which can occur when it’s cold or damp outside) can cause an inflammatory response in the joints. So if you are running in cold weather, your body may produce an inflammatory response, causing an increase in joint pain due to changes in circulation and sensitivity.
Treatment and Prevention
Luckily, treatment for knee pain after running in cold weather is relatively simple. Here are six things you can do.
One of the most important things you can do to prevent knee pain after running in cold weather is to warm up properly before your workout. A proper warm-up, including stretching, will ensure that you’re ready to hit the pavement. We recommend warming up for at least 10 minutes, or longer if you’ll be running outdoors in chilly temperatures.
2. Wear the Right Clothes
Since cold weather can contribute to knee pain, it’s important to wear the right attire when you go for a run. Even if you work up a sweat, make sure that your body is protected from the elements. This means wearing clothes that cover your legs completely and potentially wearing an additional layer or two to draw more heat to your joints and extremities that may be susceptible to less blood flow as your body tries to keep your core warm.
3. Stop and Take Breaks
We all strive to beat our personal record, but if you’re feeling stiff, it’s important to take breaks, especially if it’s cold outside. You may find that in the colder weather, your joints stiffen up sooner as your body temperature lowers. When you do take breaks, keep your joints limber and warm by implementing dynamic movements.
4. Cool Down
Just as warming up is crucial, it’s also important to cool down properly following your run. Once you complete your workout, follow it up by stretching or using a foam roller to decrease tightness in your muscles.
5. Workout Indoors
If the temperature outside is extremely cold, consider moving your workout indoors. Instead of trekking along on the pavement, opt for a cardio machine like the treadmill or elliptical.
6. Take Care of Yourself on Rest Days Too
Even on rest days, daily stretching and wearing clothes that are warm enough can help to avoid stiffness in between workouts.
Request an Appointment at The Orthopedic Clinic Today
At The Orthopedic Clinic, we want you to live your life in full motion. If knee pain after running in cold weather is making life uncomfortable, let us help you. We’ll tailor a treatment plan that’s best for your lifestyle and get you back to doing the things you love.
Call us at (386) 255-4596 to schedule an appointment.